Inside ‘The Matrix’ Auction with Lilly Wachowski

Hollywood history hits the auction block in Chicago this month

The four Matrix films set new standards for visionary moviemaking, and now artifacts from them and other movies are up for bid.

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The filmmakers — the Wachowskis — grew up in the Beverly neighborhood and still call Chicago home. WTTW News spoke with artist and filmmaker Lilly Wachowski about an auction with a cause.


Marc Vitali: The truth is, the famous red and blue pills aren’t up for auction – but there are props and models from all four Matrix movies.

Plus, items from other films by the Wachowskis, including “V for Vendetta.”

And “Cloud Atlas,” the 2012 film with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.

And why not bid on Channing Tatum’s boots from “Jupiter Ascending?”

There’s also an abundance of stuff the Wachowskis have accumulated in nearly 30 years of filmmaking.

Lilly Wachowski, artist, filmmaker:

And it’s even just personal stuff, stuff that we collected, gifts to us from fans and celebrities. So yeah, we’re just clearing house, the Wachowskis are.

Vitali:  They’ve held onto a few items.    

Wachowski: I still have a few things that are pretty cool. I have one of the red chairs from the Matrix movie. Lana has one of those, I have one of those.

Vitali: Lana is Lilly’s sister. Once known as the Wachowski brothers, they’ve each come out as a transgender woman.

Their clearing-house auction of movie memorabilia will benefit the Protect and Defend Trans Youth Fund recently launched by pop star Ariana Grande.

Wachowski: It’s a fund that benefits multiple organizations, particularly in states that are targeting trans people in their legislatures.  So you have a bunch of anti-trans bills that are being presented or in some cases passed in states that are basically forcing trans people out of public space. And their ultimate goal is to erase trans people.

We shouldn’t have to do this. We shouldn’t have to have fundraisers to protect trans people. It’s just crazy how trans folks are used as this political cudgel, this wedge, to divide our electorate.

The thing of it is, trans people aren’t going away. We’ve always been here and we always will be here. We know that we’re going to stand up for each other, it’s just a matter of if our allies and if cis people are going to stand up for us too.

Vitali:  The Wachowskis are working with a Chicago auction house that specializes in magic. This time they’re dealing with movie magic, including maquettes - scale models used by the special effects crew.

Gabe Fajuri, Potter & Potter Auctions:  

Behind you you’ve got one of the Sentinels from the Matrix. These are to show the people making the film what we want to see onscreen, so these are things that are essential to creating that movie magic.

So this is one of the items of the most interest in the auction. This is the lightning rifle from the Matrix and ah its used in one of the key scenes, and this is what they call the ‘hero prop’ so this is the one you see up close in the film and is wielded by one of the main characters in the film to kill one of the others.

Vitali: And though they’ve made movies all over the world, the Wachowskis have remained dedicated to their hometown.

Wachowski: I’ve always called Chicago home, have always had a residence here, even when I was gone for a long time for work. There’s something liberating about feeling like I didn’t have to move to LA ah to make it in this business. There was something that was really grounding and insulating about all that space between LA and Chicago and I think it allowed me and my sister to, I don’t know, make better art.          

Vitali: Now pieces of their creativity will be available for fans to bid on.       

Wachowski: It makes me feel really good. I love the idea that me and Lana are able to push these atoms out into the world for someone else to cherish because they’re really not doing much good to us except for, you know, feeding our ego which we can do without. So the fact that these pieces can find a new home where somebody is really going to love them and have a connection to a piece of art that they grew up on is… I think I’m all for it.

More on this story: The auction is called “Enter the Matrix: The Wachowski Collection.” It is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, May 12.

Note: this story will be updated with video.

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